Sexual types on the early modern stage are at once strange and
familiar, associated with a range of "unnatural" or "monstrous"
sexual and gender practices, yet familiar because readily
identifiable as types: recognizable figures of literary imagination
and social fantasy. From the many found in early modern culture,
Mario DiGangi here focuses on six types that reveal in particularly
compelling ways, both individually and collectively, how sexual
transgressions were understood to intersect with social, gender,
economic, and political transgressions.
Building on feminist and queer scholarship, Sexual Types
demonstrates how the sodomite, the tribade (a woman-loving woman),
the narcissistic courtier, the citizen wife, the bawd, and the
court favorite function as sites of ideological contradiction in
dramatic texts. On the one hand, these sexual types are vilified
and disciplined for violating social and sexual norms; on the other
hand, they can take the form of dynamic, resourceful characters who
expose the limitations of the categories that attempt to define and
contain them. In bringing sexuality and character studies into
conjunction with one another, Sexual Types provides
illuminating new readings of familiar plays, such as Shakespeare's
A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Winter's Tale,
and of lesser-known plays by Fletcher, Middleton, and Shirley.
Subjects: Language & Literature
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